There were a lot of problems in New York on Tuesday. Some polling sites opened late, others didn’t have enough election workers. There were faulty or broken voting machines. Some places had half the number of voting machines needed. Three million registered Independents couldn’t vote. But the issue New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating is voter suppression and fraud in Tuesday’s primary.
Voter irregularities were widespread across New York and especially in the Bronx, where someone purged 126,000 voter names since last fall, and someone changed the party on registration forms from Democrat to Republican, which is election fraud.
Schneiderman has begun an official investigation of the New York State Board of Elections. Schneiderman said:
‘I am deeply troubled by the volume and consistency of voting irregularities, both in public reports and direct complaints to my office’s voter hotline.’
His office received 562 calls and 140 emailed complaints to the voter hotline between 6 a.m. and 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday. That is a 368 percent increase in complaints from the 2012 general election. He said:
‘Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If any New Yorker was illegally prevented from voting, I will do everything in my power to make their vote count and ensure that it never happens again.’
Sanders campaign spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy said:
‘We are deeply disturbed by what we’re hearing from polling places across the state. From long lines and dramatic understaffing to longtime voters being forced to cast affidavit ballots and thousands of registered New Yorkers being dropped from the rolls, what’s happening today is a disgrace.’
‘It has been reported to us from voters and voting rights monitors that the voting lists in Brooklyn contain numerous errors, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from the voting lists. I am calling on the Board of Election to reverse that purge and update the lists again using Central, not Brooklyn borough, Board of Election staff.’
Ben Gershman, of Queens County New York planned on voting for Bernie Sanders. Well aware of the potential election voting fraud, he checked his status two weeks before the deadline for online registration, even though he had registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles when he moved to the city six months earlier.
There was a man with the same name, including the middle initial, in the Bronx. That man was not a registered Democrat. Gershman emailed the Board of Elections (BOE) repeatedly to remedy the mix-up and was assured he could vote, each time by a different BOE employee.
But when Gershman arrived at 7:45 a.m. to vote, election officials told him he could not. Instead, he was directed to Forest Hills to appeal his right to vote. He was lucky, because he had a car and could take the time off of work to handle the problem. But his luck ran out:
‘I spent three hours this morning trying to vote. I’m at a loss for words. I don’t understand that in the 21st century you have to stand in front of a judge to get to vote. It was laughable.’
Alba Guerrero registered to vote Democrat for Barack Obama in 2008. When she moved from Manhattan to Queens, she registered again at the DMV. Wary of alleged voting irregularities, she double checked her registration online March 9. Everything checked out.
Then, when she arrived at her voting site, she was told she was registered as a Republican. She went to Forest Hills and Vote for Bernie Sanders officials there gave her a court order, but Judge Ira Margulis turned her away. Guerrero said:
‘The judge tells me, ‘No, that’s it—2004.’ He shows me, I’m registered as a Republican. He says there’s nothing we can do.’
As she was leaving, she notice a Board of Elections person holding her 2004 voter registration with her date of birth, Social Security number, name, and someone else’s signature. She told the worker:
‘It’s not my handwriting. It showed completely different signatures.’
The signature next to the box checked Republican was strikingly different, so she went back to the judge:
‘He allowed me to change for that day.’
Ganapathy told The Daily Beast.
‘We need to be making it easier for people to vote, not inventing arbitrary obstacles—and today’s shameful demonstration must underline the urgent importance of fixing voting laws across the country.’
So the question becomes, who would benefit from this voter suppression?